Writing Later

Still Life With Manuscript

Here’s roughly what one hour of revision looks like for me:

  • 20 minutes getting back up to speed on where I left off. Gathering the threads, reminding myself where I was and what I was planning, re-reading my notes.
  • 20 minutes staring into space and/or jotting more notes, rearranging the outline, filling in details on scene order, typing notes into character sheets.
  • 10 minutes rearranging things inside the main document.
  • 10 minutes cutting scenes and writing or rewriting others, and generally being productive.
  • Done. Time to close it down and move on with my day. I’ll have to start over again tomorrow.

This does not feel productive to me. It is too big to do this in only an hour a day. Too much ramp-up time for each session.

I told Carey this and he said why not consolidate, and write for more hours on fewer days. Maybe. How about just plain more hours?

Today I wrote for two. Perfect. Enough time to prep my brain, gather the threads, be productive for a long stretch, then plan tomorrow’s work, which will reduce tomorrow’s ramp-up time. Sadly, the day has not obliged me by adding an extra hour to my tally for other things I must do. How can I sustain this?

It’s weird how my perception of myself has shifted while writing this book. Revising is hard but there is this one thing I like: As I finish a round of revisions on each chapter, I print it out and add it to the growing manuscript beside my keyboard. It’s bound with a clip at the top, and several sheets of notes attached at the front. And it sits there all the time and this is the thing:

It feels like it’s my work.

That didn’t come out right. What am I trying to say? I once thought my children were my work. They are not. I love them, I have a role to play with them, but they are their own people, they don’t belong to me, they’re a very special play I am privileged to watch from the front row, and sometimes join in.

In a sense, my business is my work, it’s consuming and I love it, and I believe in it. Same with my blogs–not as consuming, but I do love them, believe in them.

But this, this is my Work. It is what I am here for. Not this book in particular, necessarily, but all the fiction I will write. The growing stack of paper, my manuscript, is simply the physical manifestation of my purpose in life. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to realize this.

Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Thursday. Those are days I can sleep later. Monday because Carey is home with the kids and he walks the dog and there’s no rush to get everyone ready for the day. Thursday because I’m home with the kids and, although I usually work, I don’t generally have client meetings. I sleep till 6 or 7 on those four days. A year ago I would have laughed at the notion that “6 or 7″ is “sleeping later.”

Ha. Sleep? Who needs it. Not me any more.

From now on, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Thursday, are the days I get to write later.